Music Reviews

Artist: glou glou
Title: Hymn Her Hum
Format: Tape
Label: Full Spectrum Records (@)
Rated: *****
The attached info about this release by glou glou, the collaborative project by Arjun 'subnaught' Mendiratta, who plays laptop ans squeezes some tones from a violin and some sounds from rocks, and Gretchen Jude, a young scholar of Oakland-based women's liberal arts Mills college, who pours voice (you should consider it as a sort of input of their compositional process), koto and a Roland SP404, says that children should be particularly receptive to their sound. I've not tested on my lovely nephews yet, but an adult eardrum can easily enjoy their sonic game, which seems to get started by a simple stretched tone, which generates a process like a spark, even if this spark can't really start a proper fire. If your ear is not so trained to textural miniatures and sonci slow chiselling, it's very likely that you'll find its listening (particularly side A) quite boring, no matter how hard you'll try to imagine the futuristic birdsong that glou glou prefigure in order to describe their sound or the reckless references to miliar stones of the so-called free music movement (Oren Ambarchi, Fennesz or 12k's MOSS ensemble...), but I have no qualms about saying that their sonic games could be imagined as a sort of lo-fi reprise of the sonic material they brought into play. It's kind of like someone try to strum and simplify a guitar solo by John Mclaughlin or Paco De Lucia by means of an out-of-tune acoustic guitar, but the final result is somehow interesting, if you focus on the sensory aspect more than the merely compositional one. Have a listen before claiming children's opinion about glou glou's "hymnified" hissing hum!
Artist: Seba
Title: Inside Yourself / Berberian Sound
Format: 12"
Label: Secret Operations (@)
Rated: *****
One of the distinguishing feature of the esteemed Swedish dnb producer Sebastian Ahrenberg aka Seba over its 20-years lasting career is the unpredictable metamorphosis of his style, whose paradigm keeps on being clearly recognisable in spite of any changes. On this release, he adds two excellent tracks to his armoury of dnb spells and cursers: the title track "Inside Yourself" sounds like the solarization of his typical sound by entrancing atmospheres which swoop on listener's mind over echoed metallic hits, warm bumping and gentle cauterization of basslines, whose rapid pace got perfectly hamronised on the "liquid" patterns, while the sharpened beats, the sneaking bassline and the shadowy sonic entities, which could mirror imaginary hornet's nest inside clouds of dust during a desert storm, of "Berberian Sound" is the minimal precise cut on the flipside. Each track travels at about 160bpm, but you won't notice sonic sphere got blowed by such high velocity winds...
Artist: Ákos Rózmann
Title: 12 Stations / Tolv Stationer (1978-2001)
Format: 7 x CD (septuple CD)
Label: Ideologic Organ (@)
Rated: *****
According to the words of Hungarian/Swedish composer and organist Akos Rozmann: "The history of music as I know it has reached its end. But if, after all, I still composed, it would be some thing like this... Take 3", as you can read on the booklet that Ideologic Organ attached to this monumental release of this brilliant composer, who seems to have poured most of his traumatic experiences during second world war in his compositions. The title of the above-mentioned worked was later turned into "Twelve Stations" and you won't believe that this oevre, which needed seven cds in order to include its length (almost seven hours), should initially be a five minutes lasting piece for voice and piano for Ilona Maros, a soprano as well as the wife of Akos' fellow Hungarian composer Miklos Maros, who asked it in order to include the track on a compilation of works by several Swedish contemporaries. Even if Rozmann intended to fulfil the initial commission, his composition, which required 23 years (from 1978 to 2011) to get completed without getting included in the compilation "Swedish Contemporary Vocal Music" (1988) for obvious reasons, grew longer and longer and included both natural sounds and raw materials unlike his previous compositions, but this is not the only aspect which makes "Twelve Stations" a really special work in Rozmann's creative and personal path: the detailed report that Gergely Loch attached to this electroacoustic mine explains that "it consists of two halves that are separated by an eighteen-year gap in the composition process; two halves that differ from each other both technically and aesthetically, hallmarking two distinct creative period" and such a duality of his compositions crosses personal religious crisis as well. Even if he was in close contact with Roman Catholicism, he get closer to Buddhism during his first years in Stockholm so that the title of this work has nothing to do with the (fourteen) stations Christian Stations of the Cross as it seems to refer to the twelve Buddhist nidanas, the twelve-link chain of causes and effects that prevent a person to reach enlightenment, a concept that is tradinally depicted as a part of the so-called Wheel of Life: "The wheel, held by the god of death, is kept rotating by three animals seen in the axis: the pig of ignorance, the snake of hatred and the bird of desire. The ring around the axis is a sort of stairway, the left side leading to higher, the right side to lower levels of mortal existence. Most of the surface of the wheel is occupied by these levels, six in number, enumerated here from the lowest to the highest: hell, the realm of hungry ghosts, the realm of animals, the human realm, the realm of anti-gods or demons and the realm of gods. The last one is not an idealistic place, as the lives of gods are characterized by endless suffering, death and rebirth in one of the six realms, just as is anyone else's. What keeps the beings on the wheel is the rim, which stands for the nidanas. Each of these is referred to on thankas by a metaphorical picture. Ignorance (a blind woman) causes diligence (a potter), which forms consciousness (a monkey), which in turn causes the dichotomy of name and form (the ship and its passenger). This creates the senses (the depicted building is the palace of the six senses), and these lead to contact (a couple in love), which causes feelings (a man with an arrow in his eye). Feelings lead to craving (people eating and drinking), which results in grasping (a woman picking fruits), which causes becoming (a couple making love), which leads to birth (a woman giving birth), and that results in old age and death (a corpse being carried away, another being eaten by birds). This causes ignorance, and thus the chain starts anew.". But the Buddhist key of interpretation explains just the first seven stations: when he started working again on "Twelve Stations" in 1998, Akos was asked by his wife Viveca Servatius to explain the connection with Buddism and it seems that Akos replied that they were not important anymore as he preferred to highlight the primitive distinction between Good and Evil, even if he later said in an interview he didn't want 'to be classified as one who is concerned only with the rather primitive Good and Evil'! The ninth station is the extreme negative pole of this mystical/compositional process, which seems to ascend after that stage as you can easily gues by reading the titles of the following stations ("The Contents and Life of the Black Pit ", "The Abandonment of Hell", "Awakening", "The Celebrators"). Many interpretative secrecies cannot be easily understood, so that the reporter wisely observe in his notes about this work: "The question 'what happens in the music?' is thus replaced with 'what happens through the music' The answer can only be found in individual experiences of listening, ideally in the immersive way recommended by the composer: when listening to his own works, he reportedly sat very close to the studio loudspeakers, turning the volume high, totally immersing himself in the sound with deep concentration.".
Artist: Nazoranai - なぞらない
Title: The Most Painful Time Happens Only Once Has It Arrived Already... ? 一番痛い時は一度だけそれは もう 訪れているのかな...
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Ideologic Organ (@)
Rated: *****
The sound of this trio of giants of contemporary music - Keiji Haino, Oren Ambarchi (hitting on drums on this chapter) and Stephen O'Malley (from Sunn O)))...if you never heard them while braggin on your musical culture till now, you can reasonably scrape off the bottom of your shoe! - is majestically apocalyptic and intense on this second output that I imagined Maldoror, the notorious fictional character by Isidore.Lucian Ducasse aka Comte de Lautrement, the true literary paladin of iconoclasts, misanthropists and flagellants, in the act of taking part to a live session of Nazoranai with a view to a possible collaboration for the purpose of giving a score to his notorious chants. "You Should Look Closely Those Shattered Spells Never Attaining Embodiment As Prayer They Are Born Here Again" - it's the title of the 19-minutes lasting first epic track, not a personal recommendation! - stirs up huge dust clouds by a harrowing wind that blows from eerily metallic scraping, riven distortions, sinister howling voids and pressing drums. Their sonic world turns more and more grey on the following "Will Not Follow Your Hoax Called History", whose oppressive tightness, that got emphasized by Ambarchi's sticks that sound like saying the time has come, could let you imagine the above-mentioned Maldoror sharing some crack with Jesus while observing the retrograde stepping of mankind. The whirligig of chaos keeps on spinning on "Who Is Making The Time Rot", whose rock body in advanced stages of decomposition seems to clinging on life on the final title-track "The Most Painful Time Happens Only Once Has It Arrived Already..?". Take a ride.
Artist: Maninkari (@)
Title: Continuum Sonore Part 7>14
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This band is a duo from France rather obscure even if they already released a bunch of albums. Their music lies in the current of almost neo classical projects lying in the interstice between chamber music, with the use of string, and experimental, with the use of drones and subtle variations. This release is the sequel to another release based on the first six part of a longer piece.
'Part 7' opens this release and exposes a musical palette made out of drones but with some lines that reveal a process of musical development rather to depict a static musical surface. 'Part 8' features some static noises upon the underlying drone. 'Part 9' is a slowly evolving drone mottled by a cello while 'Part 10' is based on the juxtaposition of spatialized drones. 'Part 11' features a violin loop upon a soundscape while 'Part 12' is based upon synth and field recording in the first part and evolves in a sort of neo classical tunes for strings. 'Part 13' is an evocative gothic drones for synthesized voices and 'Part 14' closes this release with gentle and sustained notes of synths.
Almost canonical in his form, this release is so carefully constructed that let the listener a taste for hearing the first part as it seems to have lost something. It's really worth a listen.
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